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Nicaragua - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband

Nicaragua - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband

Market Briefing
Published: April 2014
Pages: 29
Research from: Paul Budde Communication Pty Ltd.
Sector: Mobile

From: GBP 234.00
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This report provides a comprehensive overview of trends and developments in Nicaragua’s telecommunications market. The report analyses the mobile, internet, broadband, digital TV and converging media sectors. Subjects include:

  • Market and industry analyses, trends and developments;
  • Facts, figures and statistics;
  • Industry and regulatory issues;
  • Infrastructure;
  • Major players, revenues, subscribers;
  • Internet, VoIP, IPTV;
  • Mobile voice and data markets;
  • Broadband (FttH, DSL, cable TV, wireless);
  • Convergence and digital media;

Key developments:

Grupo ICE plans to build a fibre network and offer services to businesses and to public sector organisations; government buys $244 million satellite from Great Wall to enhance telecom and TV services; auction for spectrum in the 1800MHz band opens up mobile market to competition; Xinwei Nicaragua preps for commercial launch later in 2014; regulator’s market data for 2013, market developments to April 2014.

Companies covered in this report include:

América Móvil, Movistar, Yota Nicaragua.

This report is essential reading for those needing high level strategic information and objective analysis on the telecom sector in Iceland. It provides further information on:

  • Market liberalisation and regulatory issues;
  • The impact of the global economic crisis;
  • Telecoms operators – privatisation, acquisitions, new licences;
  • Mobile data market developments in coming years in light of spectrum auctions and new license awards;
  • 3G developments, regulatory issues and technologies including HSPA and LTE;
  • Broadband migration to an FttH architecture;
  • Historical and current subscriber statistics.

Third mobile player set to launch services later in 2014

Nicaragua is the largest and least densely populated country in Central America. The country’s significant GDP growth since 2010 belies the low economic base, given that it has the lowest GDP per capita in the region, with some 60% of the population living below the poverty line. As a result, much of the economic drive has been the result of international assistance, particularly from the World Bank and other agencies.

The efforts underway to build a canal between the Pacific and Caribbean, largely with Chinese funding, which will incorporate deep-water ports, , an oil pipeline, railroad and international airport, is an ambitious attempt to bring to deliver greater economic benefits, though the business case for the project remains uncertain.

Nicaragua’s telecoms market has mirrored the poor economic achievements, with fixed-line teledensity and mobile penetration also the lowest in Central America. The broadband market remains nascent, with population penetration at about 1.2%. Most internet users are concentrated in the largest cities because the rural and marginal areas lack access to the most basic telecom infrastructure. A number of internet cafés provide public access to internet and email services, but these are also restricted to the larger population centres.

América Móvil’s Claro has a clear leadership in all of Nicaragua’s telecom sectors, including fixed-line, mobile, broadband, and pay TV. Mobile subscribers overtook the country’s main lines in early 2002, and now make up the significant majority of all lines.

Telefónica’s Movistar is the only company competing with Claro in the fixed-line and mobile market. In the mobile sector, Movistar holds almost one third of the market, but in the fixed-line sector, it has only about 10% of the country’s fixed lines in service.

Due to a weak regulatory structure and bureaucratic delays, further liberalisation has been slow to be implemented. The duopoly situation has dampened the competitive drive, and as a result there has been less effort than in neighbouring countries to improve quality and lower prices. However, other companies operating in the market include the Russian state corporation Rostejnologuii, Yota Mobile and IWB Holding.

The fixed-line market will probably continue to be stable, leaving growth principally in the mobile and broadband sectors. Competition in the mobile sector is expected to improve from late 2014 with the introduction of a new China-based operator following the auction of spectrum in the 1800MHz band. The broadband sector will be the main growth engine given the extremely low existing penetration rate coupled with consumer demand for services. In this regard, the longer-term prospect is promising.

Nicaragua – key telecom parameters – 2012; 2014

Penetration of services:
2012
2014 (e)
Fixed-line
5.0%
5.7%
Internet users
2.9%
3.9%
Broadband
1.0%
1.2%
Mobile
86%
93%

(Source: BuddeComm)

Market highlights:

  • Spectrum allocation in the 1800MHz band to Xinwei Telecom is expected to provide a range of telecom services nationally, and help break the existing market duopoly.
  • The commissioned new satellite to provide pay-TV and telecom services should be operational from mid-2015, boosting the availability and scale of services both for the country and region.
  • Claro retains a near-monopoly over broadband in Nicaragua since acquiring cable TV company Estesa, which was the only company that offered any meaningful competition. Claro’s ADSL and cable modem services are both branded Turbonett Fijo. The cable modem service uses the Hybrid Fibre Coaxial (HFC) network inherited from Estesa.
  • Telefónica is preparing to divest itself of its business in Nicaragua and other Central American markets;
  • Xinwei Nicaragua receives telecom equipment in preparation for a commercial launch of services later in 2014;
  • Telefónica plans to deploy a 3,158 mile fibre cable covering Central America, linking Mexico to Panama via Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica.

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